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Facing Reality

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Facing Reality

Published 1954
Topics Psychology

Surreal presentation of the common ways in which people escape from reality -- daydreaming, identification, suppression and malingering.

Run time 11:06
Producer Knickerbocker Productions
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


Examines the common ways in which people escape from reality--daydreaming, identification, suppression and malingering. Shows how a sympathetic instructor helps a high school boy to change his negative attitudes.

CU Teen boy drinking from flask
Boy walking around with arm in sling and cane
"Too many of us refuse to face reality. Too many of us try to escape. Escape our duties and identities, our faces and our families. But all these things remain, all the realities remain whenever we leave our dreams and return to the real world."
Teacher off screen: "Finding out what the trouble is and what sends us into defense and mechanisms is the first step back on the road to reality and the satisfactions and rewards that can be found only in the real world."
CU Annoyed, bored teen boy in school
Teen boy in foreground, girls at desk behind him.
Girl one: "Don't tell us you're still at work on your great American novel."
Girl two: "It must be nearly finished by now!"
Teem boy stands over younger sister yelling at her.
Grumpy teen boy sitting outside on the porch
Mike drops/spills milkshake.
CU Two girls laugh at him.
First girl laughing
Guy laughing
Mike looking embarrassed
Second girl laughing
Mike looking unhappy

Ken Smith sez: Any film with this title has potential, and this one starts off promisingly -- with an unsettling scene of a teenage girl with a face on either side of her head. The narrator explains that she represents one of the "escape mechanisms" we use when we "refuse to face reality." We are then introduced to Michael Squires, a teenager who is "pinwheeling through life" and "darting away from reality through the escape hatches of his emotional being"(!). Michael is a writer (it figures) who gains attention by being a "negativist" and not facing "the hard realities of life." But Michael quickly sees the errors of his ways, and when he utters his final line of the film ("I guess I haven't been making good sense") we know he's well on his way to normalcy.

This film begins with an unrealistic sequence of dramatically lit character representations of different forms of defensive behavior and rationalization. Back in a realistic setting, a high-school psychology classroom, Mike is displaying some textbook type defensive behavior. Back at home, his unhappiness drives him to reflect on his behavior while the omniscient narrator who initially introduced the character types explains: "Mike is finding that no real defense against the hard realities of life can be found in negativism and rationalization. Face saving self-justification, deception . . . why?" Eventually, the voice of the school teacher is heard: "Protective mechanisms offer the wrong route". Mike snaps out of it, ready to conform to acceptable forms of behavior , admitting, "I guess I haven't been making good sense."
SURREAL sequences (shot in a black box studio with controlled, dramatic lighting)
A whirling pinwheel throws off sparks
A group of youngsters sit on the ground, looking up at a woman, dressed in black, wearing a mask with one covering her face and another face over the back of her head. She walks slowly in circles.
A group of football players in their garb in this dramatic unreal environment.
Dramatically lit young man, sipping on a pint of whiskey.
Dramatically lit young woman, repetitively straightens her hair.
A man air boxes
Young woman looks in a mirror, looks down and repeats this process
Ends with pinwheel throwing off sparks

A high school classroom, high school students getting up from their desks, leaving
Happy teenagers at a malt shop, one drops his malt and it breaks on the floor, close-ups of teenagers laughing.

Surrealism Psychology Escapism Rationalization Safety Danger Lurks


Reviewer: JayKay49 - favoritefavorite - January 16, 2012
Subject: Another Troubled Teen What on earth is wrong with this kid anyway? Maybe its in that comment about not wanting to see another girl... ever....but its only 1954 and it would be at least 10 years before he'll be able to discuss that "issue" - and not get locked away in a state hospital.

A typical film of its type - not particularly entertaining but it does get a point across about defense mechanisms.
Reviewer: Trashed_Tapes - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 13, 2008
Subject: My Bad
Now I know that its ALL my fault.
Sorry about all the wars and stuff, I'll try to do better in the afterlife.
Reviewer: ratel - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 13, 2008
Subject: The Spirit of Mike Lives!
Too bad Mike the Negativist didn't have the Internet and access to Rather than staring out the window at night, I'm sure he would have spent countless hours writing elaborate, withering reviews about how ridiculous and moronic Prelinger films are.
Reviewer: noisepuppet - favoritefavorite - July 31, 2008
Subject: WRONG
Makes a complete hash of classic Freudian defense mechanisms.

Besides, Mike isn't neurotic. He is just a knob.
Reviewer: ERD - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 24, 2007
Subject: Effective for the time alloted
The film does a good job covering the topic in the short time alloted. A good script that is well acted and directed.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 1, 2006
Subject: I Don't Think I Can Adequately Review This...Uh, Excuse Me, I Meant to Say, This is a Stupid Film!
This mental hygiene film from the 50s attempts to teach the complex issue of defense mechanisms in 11 minutes and, as you might expect, it oversimplifies the issue vastly. The first half of the film is very surreal, containing spinning teens doing dances that represent their defense mechanisms, the strangest of which is a girl wearing a mask with a face on both sides of it. Then it settles down into typical social guidance territory and tells us the story of Mike, a boy who criticizes everything he secretly feels insecure about. Itâs because he bottles up the things that bother him, instead of getting them out in the open where they can be examined. It turns out that the things that bother him are all trivial misunderstandings, which he would only know if he had discussed them with others instead of keeping them inside. Eventually, Mike decides to talk to his psychology teacher about whatâs bothering him, and this is shown to be his first step in âfacing reality.â Good for him, but where does that leave the troubled teen who has more serious problems and no one safe to turn to to talk about them with? This film isnât as outrageously stupid as some of the Coronet films, nor is it cruel like Habit Patterns, but it does vastly oversimplify its subject matter.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Reviewer: GE_Pretzel - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 30, 2005
Subject: Quite imaginative
Your favorite condescending narrator from Habit Patterns is back to inform viewers of the various "defensive mechanisms" used by individuals to avoid their daily problems. After some strange imagery, the film focuses on the problems of Michael, a young man who just can't get his act together and confront the realities of his life. The film conveys the subject matter in a very entertaining way. One of the funniest scenes involves Michael's little sister lip-synching the narrator! Ha! A must see.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - May 5, 2003
Subject: Don't cry over spilled milk
Somewhat interesting tale about Mike, who has trouble paying attention, is arguementative and self centered. Yes, but what MADE him that way. Unfortunately finding out about that only takes about 30 seconds (and they're real doozies too) over pretty bland teenage angst. The beginning, with it's surreal descriptions of the types of angst you can have is interesting, but the rest is pretty much blah.
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